Trending and NoteWorthy: The Broncos backfield and much more
Time Share Takes
New England Patriots
67 Rushing Attempts (Four games) – 294 Yards – 2 TDs
Three Receptions – 18 Receiving Yards
The Patriot way has been to dole out rushing attempts and passing targets based on game flow and their specific opponent, but Michel has 112 and 98 rushing yards in back-to-back games, suggesting that Bill Belichick will provide Michel consistent touches going forward. Michel is establishing himself as a RB2 going forward. Trending.
23 Rushing Attempts – 110 Rushing Yards – 1 TD
32 Receptions – 270 Receiving Yards – 4 TDs
White is a weapon as a receiving back and is currently a must-start play, but he is and never will be an effective rusher and that limits his ceiling. Five touchdowns have made him a Flex play, but in Fantasy Football we tell owners not to chase touchdowns and that’s the concern here. If White isn’t crossing the goal line he isn’t a must-start Flex and he lacks the upside to be a RB2. Owners need to get while the getting is good without marrying their Flex position to a pass catcher with a limited ceiling. Monitor the touchdowns and decide accordingly.
45 Rushing Attempts – 267 Rushing Yards – 1 TD
Five Receptions – 45 Receiving Yards – 1 TD
In the first two games Lindsay rushed for 178 yards on 29 carries and it looked like he was going to run away and be the Broncos number one running back. In the last two games, he has 89 rushing yards on 16 carries and now it looks like a two-man time share and he isn’t the first option at the goal line.
44 Rushing Attempts – 219 Rushing Yards – 3 TDs
One Reception – Five Receiving Yards
Freeman started slow and while he hasn’t barreled back, he has improved recently. What’s NoteWorthy here is that he has scored a rushing touchdown in three straight games.
This is a true time share in an offense that ranks 13th in rushing attempts per game (26.5) and the Broncos are spreading those carries around equally between Lindsay and Freeman. Lindsay is slightly more explosive while Freeman is the preferred goal line option and that’s where the Start Em’/Sit Em’ decision lies here. Freeman is the Flex Start, while Lindsay is the hard-luck Sit.
T.J. Yeldon, RB Jacksonville Jaguars
49 Rushing Attempts – 205 Rushing Yards – 1 TD
14 Receptions – 125 Receiving Yards – 2 TDs
Yeldon has never averaged more than 85 yards from scrimmage per game or scored more than three touchdowns in a season, but he never had as many touches or targets as it looks like he will this season with the injury issues for Leonard Fournette.
Yeldon is on pace to match or exceed his career high in attempts, touchdowns and yards from scrimmage per game. It looks like the more opportunities Yeldon receives, not only do his totals rise, but his average yard per touch does as well, on the best Jaguars team he has ever played on. He is a must-own, must-start Flex until he proves otherwise.
Julio Jones, WR Atlanta Falcons
There are some encouraging and discouraging Noteworthy facts about Julio Jones. He leads the league in receiving yards (502), while being tied for eighth in receptions with 29, but he has zero touchdowns. That would be an oddity if not for 2017, when he had only four receiving touchdowns. The Falcons struggles to find ways to get the ball to Jones in the red zone is looking more like a continuing Trend than a Noteworthy item now that it’s bled into 2018. Owners might want to consider selling high while the receptions and receiving yards are still at an elite level.
Adam Thielen, WR Minnesota Vikings
2017 Stats: 91 Receptions – 1276 Receiving Yards – 4 TDs – 4 100+ yard games
2018 Stats: 40 Receptions – 473 Receiving Yards – 2 TDs – 2 100+ Yards Games
Thielen had a breakout season in 2017 and is on pace to shatter those numbers in 2018. He leads the league in targets with 56 and ranks second in receptions and receiving yards. It doesn’t “feel” like Thielen is getting the respect he deserves, making him a strong buying opportunity. It was controversial when I predicted Thielen would outscore Stefon Diggs to be the Vikings’ best wide receiver in 2017, but now it’s time to go league-wide. Thielen is going to finish the 2018 season as the Number One Fantasy WR. Inquire about him and see if he can be acquired.
Jarvis Landry, WR Cleveland Browns
Landry has established a reputation for being a target and receptions machine while doing it with a less-than-outstanding quarterback throwing to him. In Cleveland, the circumstances and the pace of his targets haven’t changed, but the receptions have. He has caught only 24 of his 47 targets in 2018, while he caught 112 of 160 in 2017. The Browns’ QB situation may or may not have gotten better with the change from Tyrod Taylor to Baker Mayfield, but through four games they both have been worse for Landry’s reception totals. One reason for optimism, his Yards Per Catch average is at a career high (13). Owners are unlikely to want to trade for him and with a potential decline in process he isn’t a buy-low target. NoteWorthy.
Michael Thomas, WR New Orlean Saints
2018 Stats: 42 Receptions – 44 Targets – 445 Receiving Yards – 3 TDs
Thomas had 104 receptions on 149 targets in 2017, a great season. In 2018, he is on pace for 168 receptions and 176 targets this season. The increase in targets seems unsustainable, but it’s not THAT much of an outlier if it were to happen. DeAndre Hopkins was targeted 175 times in 2017, so Thomas could be that guy in 2018. What is impossible is for Thomas to catch 42 out of every 44 targets and with fewer receptions it means an obvious drop in catches, but also a drop in receiving yards as well. NoteWorthy
David Johnson, RB Arizona Cardinals
2018 Stats: 56 Rushing Attempts, 19 Targets in passing game
Johnson isn’t receiving the rushing attempts of the bell cow running backs (Gurley and Elliott) while he isn’t being targeted in the passing game like the elite dual-threat playmakers (Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon) at running back. Oddly, I wrote about Christian McCaffrey and his workload being too much for the little dude to handle going forward. McCaffrey and Johnson are carrying similar workloads, suggesting Johnson needs more and McCaffrey is not being overused. The performance with the ball has been disappointing, but there is room for improvement purely in his workload going forward. Johnson is a “reluctant” buy-low opportunity.
Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled
John Brown, WR Baltimore Ravens
30 targets, 15 receptions, 338 yards 3 TDs
I have been high on Brown because of his Average Draft Position (158 overall) and as one of the league leaders in Yards Per Target at wide receiver, he is having a breakout year. His plays are big while his production in inconsistent. The targets are limited and the receptions are low. Players like Brown and DeSean Jackson are boom-or-bust plays that break owners’ hearts more often than they bring them the true Fantasy love. But if you are fine with that, Brown is that guy this season and should be going forward. I like consistent, predictable targets and production, so for me, he is one not to Be Fantasy Fooled on.
DeSean Jackson, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2018 Stats: 22 targets, 17 receptions, 424 yards
Jackson is low on receptions and disturbingly low on targets. Downfield threats like D-Jax are always going to be low on the most important predictors of success because teams don’t take shots dow field often enough. But he is on pace for 68 receptions and 88 targets. Those touches and targets compare to Danny Amendola and Rishard Matthews from 2017. Still, he is on pace for his best season since 2013 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He is an unconventional wideout having an “unconventional career year.” We aren’t being Fantasy fooled, but it’s difficult to start D-Jax with confidence. Trust the Numbers, even if you are skeptical.